Ophelia and the arrival of spring flowers

Image from CBC Canada Writes

Recently, the world celebrated William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. Well, that’s our best guess, anyway, anyone who’s studied Shakespeare will tell you: we only know what day he was christened, so we assume April 23rd is his birthday. Regardless, there were some  pretty fun celebrations of the Bard around the world, including “Cakespeare,” a contest hosted by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London to design Shakespeare’s birthday cake.

Instead of designing cake, CBC Canada Writes asked Canadians to take a Shakespearean character, situate him or her in a present-day scenario, and write a new soliloquy or monologue for that character, as part of their (goofily-named) “Shakespeare Selfie” challenge, which ran from April 14 to May 9.Rhodo 2

Ah, well, I can’t resist a challenge to write a dramatic monologue, and I spend a lot of my time dreaming up speeches for devoiced princesses, anyway, so I thought I’d try my hand at a Shakespeare character, too, just for fun. I am pretty pleased to tell you that my monologue has been published on the Canada Writes website as today’s pick of the day:  “Ophelia, attending a garden on the ground floor of a Vancouver apartment building.” You can go read it!

Don’t let Canada Writes’ cheerful blurb on the poem fool you. The poem is pretty depressing. It is from the point of view of poor Ophelia, after all, whose father died, boyfriend left her, and then her brother took off to France to leave her to deal with her grief alone.Hostas

If you’re not Ophelia, though, I imagine it’s pretty hard to be too sad in Vancouver right now. I’m absolutely loving the sunshine, here, and all the flowers. I feel a bit silly about all the macro shots of daffodils, rhododendrons, roses, tulips, irises, lilacs that I can’t help myself from snapping with my iPhone; it proves that my photography ambitions have not changed much since I was an eleven-year-old girl. But it’s hard not to revel in all this beauty! Plus, it’s clearly ice-cream-eating season now, and that makes me happy too.

It’s also the season for a lot other exciting things in the world of poetry! Last Friday I went to andrea bennett‘s launch of Candoodlers, her debut poetry collection from Nightwood Editions. It is an excellent book and it was an excellent celebration. That same evening, the finals of the Poetry in Voice youth recitation contest took place, and that is pretty inspiring. I love to see poetry’s power put right out there and discussed.

What kinds of grist are you pouring into the poetry mill this spring? And are you also taking a bunch of photos of spring flowers?

Published by Ruth Daniell

Ruth Daniell is a speech arts teacher, a book editor, and an award-winning writer. Her first full-length collection of poems is The Brightest Thing (Caitlin Press, 2019). She lives in Kelowna, BC, where is at work on her second collection of poems.

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